"RNA and Protein: A Match Made in the Hadean"
Loren Williams, PhD
Director, NASA-NAI RiboEvo Center
School of Chemistry & Biochemistry
The Williams lab studies RNA, using synthetic biology, phylogeny, biophysical chemistry, bioinformatics, molecular biology and paleogeology. They construct models of ancient ribosomes in silico, in vitro and in vivo. They deconstruct and reverse engineer the ribosome providing tools for understanding the origin of life and for discovery of new antibiotics. They study DNA interactions with ions, anti-cancer drugs and proteins.
Loren Williams was born in Seattle, Washington. In 1981 he received his B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Washington where he worked in the laboratory of Martin Gouterman. In 1985 he received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Duke University, where he worked the laboratory of Barbara Shaw. He was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow first at Duke then at Harvard. From 1988 to 1992 he was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Alex Rich in the Department of Biology at MIT. He joined the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech in 1992 where is he currently a professor. Loren received an NSF CAREER Award in 1995, and a Sigma Xi Award for best paper from Georgia Tech in 1996. He is director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute funded Ribo Evo Center. The goal of the Center is to rewind the “tape of life”, to understand and recapitulate macromolecular synthesis, folding, assembly and catalysis of primodial biological systems. The Center uses biology's translation system, which contains an interpretable molecular record of the deep and distant evolutionary past, to understand biology before LUCA.